Reflections on Ash Wednesday


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  For me it should be a time of reflection.  To that end I traditionally give up some of my favorite things (chocolate and wine) as I (try to) reflect as a Christian what was given/given up for me.  I also try to give; be it a physical gift (like a donation to the food pantry) or something more personal/spiritual (like an act of kindness).  

I've written a lot about Lent over the years, so I'm reflecting on that.  By looking back on those posts, I realize how consistent I am in trying to act in faith during this time.  Sometimes succeeding and sometimes not.

On this particular Ash Wednesday, where it IS possible to physically gather as well as continue to gather virtually, I think back on Ash Wednesday 2020.  Or as I think of it, the last "regular" Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday fell on February 26th in 2020.  The words Covid-19 and pandemic were hardly in my vocabulary, yet it would be a different Ash Wednesday for me personally as I would not be able to attend an evening church service.  My mother was scheduled to have eye surgery (outpatient) that day and I would be staying with them for several days, doing something I rarely did then; work remotely.  Instead of an evening service, I got my "ashes to go;" a program by another local church where you received ashes, a blessing and a flyer with a Lenten reading on one side and the church's Lenten offerings on the other.  (Amusing side note:  I've kept that piece of heavy stock paper in my car ever since.  Check out the faded area from the sun.) 

 At the time I didn't realize how important that experience would be, as churches would be physically shut down for many months.  Who could have imagined that Lent would end without a physical Easter gathering and with no choir singing "Hosanna?"

I drove down to my parents, had a little time to unload my belongings and then drove my mother over to the facility where the procedure would be done.  The waiting room area was large and there weren't too many people there.  I sat there with my mother, did some work on my laptop when she went in, and drove her home when she was finished.  It was mostly a "typical" experience, though I do remember seeing some people with faces masks.  At the time I (probably) thought it was overkill, but then most of the patients were senior citizens, so...The next day when I took her to the eye doctor's office, it was relatively crowded and I don't think I saw a soul with a face mask.  Why would I? 

How things would change.  Our outlook on everything would change after Ash Wednesday 2020.

Here we are two years later and this morning, I went back for "ashes to go," just as I did in 2020.  I received another flyer.  This year the reading was from Psalm 103 and the first line written is how I intend to (try to) approach this Lent.  "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness."  After all that we have faced in the past two years and with all that we face currently in our world, it is definitely the time to act in compassion and mercy.  To show kindness and not lash out in anger.  (That is NOT to say we should not be angry at times or at certain things, but to be perhaps thoughtful in our anger; if that is possible.  I know it is something I should incorporate in my life.) 

If I (attempt to) follow these words this Lent, perhaps it they will follow me throughout the year.  They may become my new habit; a habit that could improve my life and perhaps the lives of those around me.  Maybe it would ripple out even more?  Compassion, mercy and kindness: words to live by this Lent.


Popular posts from this blog

Not Guilty

Please Don't Ask Me...

Lowe's LIES